Thursday, January 29, 2009

Is it still Wednesday?

Yesterday was quite a day - started early as all Wednesdays do with my Dad coming to help put my kids on the bus since I have a weekly staff meeting that begins 30 minutes before I normally get there. I left the house at 7:30 am and got to work on time. Around lunchtime I went out with several co-workers/friends for one of their birthdays and I then after a bit I ended up leaving early - around 2:30 to come home and take my oldest, Caitlin to a dentist appointment.

It seems like I've been living in doctor's and dentist's offices for about a month now (maybe because I have). Cait needed 8 sealants. I don't think we knew about sealants when I was 12, but I'm quite sure they're imperative now.

Graciously, a neighbor invited Maggie and Ryan for a "play date" - although they call it "hanging out" now - so they didn't have to traipse with me to the dentist's office. While I was there, I confirmed with the dentist that I followed up with the oral surgeon he recommended to pull Ryan's baby canine teeth since there are two permanent teeth growing in behind them that are going to present problems. Ryan is extremely anxious about this so I ask how much to knock him out completely for the procedure and learn it's $1000 for the anesthesiologist. I determine to ask Dan how he feels if we bribe Ryan with a $50 lego toy of his choice for going with the local.

I'm grateful for the time to quietly read one of my books and laugh out loud when reading in Mark Buchanan's book (see bottom of blog page) of how he relates to the apostle Peter, recounting the passage where Peter asks Jesus how many times we should forgive someone and offers up "7" as a reasonable answer. Mark thinks this is extravagant and I appreciate the honesty from the pastor/author.

Cait finishes, emerges her happy and sweet self and asks for Root Beer to get rid of the funny taste. We head home and I collect the twins and prepare 3 meals for dinner (my own fault for allowing this behavior of "choosing" your dinner) while Cait finishes homework. Right after dinner, it's back to church for Cait's youth group (my third time on Route 53 today as the dentist's office is in Palatine) and after a failed attempt to meet a friend for coffee, I determine to get some work done while I'm waiting. The phone rings just shy of 8:00 pm - it's my husband Dan to tell me Maggie just fell off the bed (well technically she fell off of Ryan who was also on the bed) and hit her head on the corner of the nightstand and it's still bleeding. I head home.

Maggie (who was probably not in all that much pain), sobs upon her mother's entrance into the house (isn't that how it is - you're hurt, you see your mom....tears ensue) and I take one look at the gash and decide we're going to the ER. We all say a prayer and Dan and Ryan head to church to pick Caitlin up from youth group while Maggie and I head to the ER at Alexian Brothers which thankfully is all of 2 miles away (maybe 1 1/2).

It's not too crowded when we arrive which is good news because a) I don't want to park far away in the 7 degree weather and b) I don't want to wait two hours to have someone look at this. The triage nurse is already helping a woman holding an infant (I feel much worse for them) and Maggie and I wait until called. They ask if she's been there before and we say "no - the last head injury ER visit was down the street at Northwest Community Hospital." The woman at registration asks me her birthdate again and if I'm sure she hasn't been in the ER before, but before I can answer she looks up from the screen and asks if she's a twin - I tell her yes and that her brother has had both of his head injuries taken care of in this ER. Before I can even pull out my insurance card a nurse comes to take us in - he cleans up all the blood around the wound and the doctor comes in, introduces herself and says the words Maggie was hoping not to hear..."just a few staples." We pray again and she takes it like a champ and doesn't cry the whole time. The doctor was fantastic.

We were glad the doctor thought to give Maggie a gown so her shirt wouldn't get all wet with the treatment, knowing we'd have to go back out into the 7 degree weather. They are done soon enough, give us some ointment like vaseline - which Maggie is well acquainted with because of her chapped lips - to put on twice a day for the next two days. It doesn't appear that they cut any of her hair (big relief) but Maggie is a little disappointed she couldn't watch what was happening (perhaps a doctor in the making?) Good thing Ryan wasn't there - he doesn't like the word "blood".

We sit around for 45 minutes waiting for the paperwork to catch up with the treatment and then head home shortly after 10:00 pm. It takes her a little while to fall asleep, but not too long after Daddy tucks her in, and we decide to let her stay home from school because even if she's feeling well, we can't wash her hair for 24 hours because going to school with bloody, matted hair is a deal breaker for a 4th grade girl (staples notwithstanding).

Around 11:00 pm I sat on the couch and flicked on ESPN to see what was going on at the Australian Open and they say they're showing the Roddick/Federer match live in a few hours on Thursday and I think to myself - "It's still Wednesday??"

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

What A Day

Read an e-mail recently from my niece who wrote a hysterical account of a trip to the store to buy a Halloween costume for her son (I'd like to mention now she's very young since I just disclosed I'm a "great"-aunt). Anyway, I had a similar story recently and thought I'd post it so I didn't have to come up with new material for my blog tonight. :-)

November 5, 2008

5:38 AM – Wake up, go to the bathroom, check clock, realize I can sleep another hour and go back to bed.

6:48 AM – Wake up (again) go downstairs, make coffee, grab Ab roller while brewing and do 50 sit-ups. Feel better about eating all the Halloween candy. .

6:58 AM – Get in shower.

7:20 AM – Go downstairs again, begin making kids lunches – sigh huge relief, Ryan has hot lunch ordered – no need to make Chicken nuggets. Microwave leftover mac-n-cheese for Maggie. Think about eating a bagel. Get sidetracked.

7:26 AM - Grandma arrives to help get kids on bus because Papa is sick. Grandma doesn’t know routine. Stop everything and get flustered because now I’m running late.

7:28 AM – Wake Maggie up, remind Caitlin to take her pill. Make her go upstairs and help her fix her hair.

7:33 AM- Finish putting on make-up, jewelry, and shoes. Brush teeth.

7:40 AM - Look for coffee to-go cup. Can’t find one. Use big thermos instead. Remember bagel. Forget bagel while helping to look for Maggie and Ryan’s missing recorders for music class. Tell kids to pray.

7:45 AM – Decide to bring leftover donut holes no one is eating for breakfast to work. Grab, coffee, donuts, and go to hug kids good-bye.

7:48 AM - Accidentally drop donuts all over floor while hugging Caitlin. Cait volunteers to get dustbuster and vacuum floor – tell her thanks. Watch Ryan put all donuts that rolled on filthy floor back in box. Instruct Grandma to pitch it all. Leave quickly in frustration. Hear Ryan say he found his recorder on way out the door.

7:53 AM – Call Grandma from cell phone immediately after leaving house to remind kids to brush teeth, making left turn while on call. Watch coffee tumble over across passenger side well. Curse husband for having all coffee “go mugs” in his car.

8:00 AM – Drive 70 on highway to make up time.

8:05 AM – Pray to be on time for 8:15 meeting. Repent for driving 70.

8:10 AM – Pull into parking lot, go into building and dig through bottom of purse for 2 minutes looking for keys to get in.

8:12 AM – Knock on employee door. No keys.

8:13 AM – Go to fridge to put away lunch – realize left lunch (and bagel) at home.

8:14 AM – Go back to cubicle and realize no keys means no unlocking all cabinets with daily work in them.

8:15 AM – Spot Coffee to-go mug on desk. Repent for cursing husband. Go to Chapel for employee meeting. Sing praises to God for 15 minutes with whole staff.

8:30 AM – All is well with the world again.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Really God?

Our Pastor has been preaching lately about Jonah - and let me tell you it's a lot different than the Sunday School story that focuses on a whale. He challenged us, like God challenged Jonah, to come out of our comfort zones and be willing to stretch for the Lord as called. This is wise counsel as our church is looking to expand dramatically in the coming year and it will take a lot of commitment from more than a few people to do it successfully. But I still didn't have any idea how many times God would challenge me not to be comfortable in one week. After awhile, I was getting annoyed. And then I was a little embarrassed when I realized how annoyed I was, assuming one uncomfortable situation would meet my quota and I could leave the rest of the discomfort to other poor saps. Imagine what our potential would be if we weren't limited by our own rudely constructed walls.


I was talking to a friend recently who was sharing about a rather difficult year. But here was the thing, nothing in particular happened in the past 12 months that could explain it. And there had been other years with specific events that created great difficulty that didn’t seem as bad. So the question that came of the conversation was “Are there just seasons like this?”

I think the answer can be “yes… sometimes there are just rough seasons”, but I wonder if it isn’t usually more a case of an underlying matter that’s been there much, much longer but only recently came to light.

My Dad used to drive a garbage truck for a living, a lot of residential routes, but mostly commercial for several years. He was up and out of the house before dawn and often working in the dark through the cold winter months. I imagine there were plenty of alleys and parking lots with enormous dumpsters and walled off refuse areas with gates and fences to navigate. I can’t begin to estimate the amount of cut glass, metal and wire he would encounter on any given day. I remember he would come home and head straight to the bathroom to change. He’d emerge before dinner and sit at the table and show us all the cuts and bruises he had discovered in the shower. I used to be amazed that he didn’t know he had them until then. I’d ask him how he didn’t feel a scrape 4 inches long and what looked to be fairly deep while it was happening and he would shrug. I thought it was so odd that he didn’t feel any pain when he got the wound and didn’t even notice it until clean water and soap were pouring over them.

I think that’s how it often works in life. We don’t feel our wounds when they are happening or even notice them the rest of the day, but when we begin to get washed clean the pain wells up as they become so apparent. That’s certainly true in the life of a Christian. The more you know of God and His holiness, the more the light shines on sin. It all begins to come to the surface.

This is a good thing. But it doesn’t tend to feel that way.

I laid on the couch today and could see all three of my kids within the two connected rooms – Caitlin perched on the couch practicing trumpet with the concentration of a professional right before opening night. Her movements are fluid now, natural even, which is incredible since she’s been playing less than a year and a half. I watch her as she plays, her profile more like Dan than me, her chin very much my mother-in-law, her posture the best it’s been since, well since I’ve paid attention to her posture. She hesitates at certain intervals and hums or taps her foot imagining the other band instruments playing their parts before the trumpets come back in – I can almost hear them myself watching her. She makes it look more and more effortless, so comfortable now with her instrument. She’s begun reading the book I got her, “Look Me In The Eye” a biography written by John Elder Robison who also has Aspergers. Right before she began playing she told me that he calls people with Aspergers “Aspergians” and said some people with Aspergers can “have perfect pitch and otherworldly musical ability”. She thought she might be one of those Aspergians and I agreed.

Maggie was concentrating on a game she was playing at the dining room table. No longer squinting as she was looking through the brand new lenses of her brand new glasses. She looks incredibly grown up – more like a pre-teen studying for a test than a fourth grader on winter break. She adapts so well and with such a good attitude I am amazed and very thankful. She is polite and says ‘excuse me’ to get my attention to ask me a question and then enthusiastically presses on when I tell her to go ahead. “How often will I have to clean my glasses?” “Will I use the same lens cleaners you do?” I tell her it varies and she’ll notice when they begin to get dirty, but that I already bought an extra box of lens cleaners to share with her and she is very pleased.

Ryan is on the floor, where he usually plays, although several feet away from the stairs which is unusual. He has a collection of star wars figurines, legos, and miniature football helmets engaged in a war complete with sound effects and plenty of ammo. There is confusion among the ranks, they don’t seem to know the strategy and there appears to be more than one general in charge. He looks up and smiles that smile of his that gets me every time, except his two eye teeth have been missing for awhile and so it’s even more endearing to me right now. I know he’s happy that we’re all in the same room even though we are doing four separate things. I know his best peace comes from our togetherness and his imagination is all the entertainment he seeks right now.

I am hugely content and know this is one of those moments to capture and bring out again like a favorite photograph for the memory of it. I am almost overwhelmed at God’s generosity to me. I pray for more moments like these when we’re not so busy and we enjoy what we’re doing and we realize how good we have it. I pray that I will be wise with my time to recognize the opportunities for these moments. I pray they will be in the kids’ memories as vividly as mine even if they don’t remember anything specific.

I went to my last therapist session today. At least I think it’s my last. I guess it’s more accurate to say I didn’t schedule another appointment. After three years of Christian counsel my wise advocate said that I’d reached a point where it wasn’t necessary for me to return… and I agreed. That isn’t to say I don’t think I couldn’t benefit from therapy for the rest of my earthly life! Rather, I’m at a healthy place where I’m no longer susceptible to anxiety. Or maybe it’s better to say, I know how to handle it now. I am truly grateful for her counsel, patience, care and prayers. I’m also grateful for her experience, education and faith. God blessed me through her and I highly recommend counseling for anyone struggling with anything.

Some of the things I am now able to do that convinced her I was able to balance on my own is my ability to say “no”, to adapt when plans are changed, to change the plans myself, and not to fear the reaction of anyone whose expectations I did not meet, especially if they were unrealistic or even damaging expectations.

Since we just hosted Christmas we got to talk about the hosting duties (it was our turn) and how that went. I’ve always been more Mary than Martha when it comes to hosting a party and I mean that in both the biblical sense and the Martha Stewart one. You will not find me slaving away all night in the kitchen and making everything extraordinary ahead of time (or on-time for that matter). I’m much more interested in who is coming and what we’ll talk about. So I’m the one at Jesus’ feet, but that could partly be due to how much I abhor the alternative. Nothing in the kitchen calls to me. I can’t say that my husband feels exactly the same way. I’m not painting him as a Martha, but he cares a little more about the details when it comes to decoration and cleanliness than I do and so sometimes I find myself in the position of needing to care a little more myself so as not to increase his anxiety.

I thought a lot today about what a huge difference it makes if you have the ability to adapt or not. A lot of things can go wrong when planning a party and I started thinking - Can you adjust to a bigger or smaller guest list? Can you change the date last minute? Is there ever a “Plan B’ – just in case someone gets horribly sick or something? And if there isn’t a Plan B, can you punt successfully? Between the punting and meditating on the lack of a Plan B, I immediately thought of Kyle Orton. The Bears still had a chance to make the playoffs if they won Sunday against the Texans AND if the Vikings lost or TWO other teams lost (including the Bucs – which wasn’t likely) for the wild card. Miraculously, both of those teams did end up losing. And yet, the Bears’ season was over because Kyle Orton does not have, nor can he adapt to, a Plan B. His QB style is more the “stare-at-the-receiver-you’re-going-to-throw-to-for-five-seconds-before-throwing” approach. This of course, tips off all the professional defensive players on the other team and usually ends in an incomplete pass or worse, an intercepted pass. This doesn’t seem to discourage Kyle from his course of action, nor does he hesitate and look for other options in the thick of it. And when I thought about this, I thought, what a clear example of the limitations of focusing on one thing and one thing only. Can it ever be a good idea to be so focused on anything that you can’t see anything else?

Well….yes, but there is really only one example…Jesus. Eyes fixed on Jesus and only Jesus and never moving off of Jesus is not only a good idea, but the only possible way to not fail.
So I’ve been thinking forever about starting a blog, or at least I’ve been thinking about it since I knew what a blog was. And I almost did it before my annual Christmas letter so that I could put the blog address in the letter. Knowing that if I did, there would be some accountability for me to write regularly, because people I knew and loved would be checking….yeah, that didn’t end up being incentive enough.

But everything in my life right know is pointing me in that direction and I can almost hear God audibly telling me that I’ve waited long enough to write, it’s time to get stuff out there. I’m not sure if God actually says “stuff”, but that’s my interpretation. I think really He was more like Nike and along the lines of “Just do it.”

So they say when you write, you should write what you know, so there will be a fair bit of writing about Jesus. And that will probably chase off more than half of what will be my “invited audience” by which I mean people whose e-mail addresses I have and who have a clue who I am. It’s not my intent to use this blog to preach but if that happens, you’ve been warned. I’ll pretty much just write what’s on my mind and things that move me or perplex me as the case may be.

I should disclose right up front that I’m not for everyone. For those of you out there who are kind, meek, soft-spoken, well-mannered and incredibly disciplined, I will most likely offend you immediately, though not intentionally. I am not a quiet person, and I know this about myself. You won’t hear my volume in a blog, but you’ll get the sensation just the same. Gentle is not one of the first 20 adjectives people use to describe me. And restraint isn’t my strong point either. So it’s like this, I have no problem keeping other people’s secrets - I just can’t keep my own. However a lot of what happens to me, involves other people, so I won’t name names without permission or embarrass my husband or family (again, at least not intentionally).

That about covers the ground rules. I’ll be thrilled if even one person checks in regularly, but for now, it’s more about me getting into the habit of writing again than worrying about any of it getting read!